The Way I Work
I use a variety of materials from industrial America. Some — such as lighting components and fasteners — I buy new. For many of the colors and shapes and textures I work with, however, there are no commercial sources. Things for sale in antique stores and flea markets generally have a shopworn, picked-over feeling, and I don’t feel comfortable working with stuff that someone else already perceives as interesting or nostalgic or otherwise salable. So I keep my eyes open.
Sometimes an old non-franchised hardware store or a general store out in the country will still stock some classic object, something reminiscent of the ways that tools and materials were used back when people expected things to last and rarely threw anything away.
Generally the materials that I use have been part of some well-built object that was loved and valued and respected until for some reason it could no longer be used for its intended purpose. You can find such things anywhere: washed up on the beach, atop a pile in a scrap-metal yard, peeking out of a dumpster, or placed lovingly out on the curb by someone who just couldn’t bear to mix them in with the household garbage.
After cleaning up one of my finds, I may immediately disassemble it. More often, I let the whole piece rest until I have a sense of its particular qualities and how they could integrate with other objects in my studio. I have wonderful pieces that have been sitting around for years, waiting to be part of some yet undreamed-of combination. Other things demand to be worked with as soon as they hit my workbench. A few pieces have so much individual power that I may never find the precise materials that will complement them.
Each piece that I show is typically the result of many months of trial and error, and intense evaluation: What colors and shapes and textures and densities work together best? Does a certain combination bring out previously unheard-of resonances? How does it speak? What does it say? Is it new? Will it last?
The Music I Listen To
I grew up listening to what is called "border radio" in San Diego, California, just across the Mexican border from AM stations much too powerful to be licensed in the US. The rhythms, harmonies, and chord progressions that I learned back then have stayed with me for fifty years, and their gritty inspiration is what drives me in my studio.
All of the pieces that I’m showing are imbued with the blues, from the experience of scrounging of raw materials in urban streets and rural junkyards through the incessant improvisation as I pull disparate materials together, to the final decision that I have assembled something new and lasting.
I hope that these pieces — abstract, all of them — express something about the tangled, messy, sometimes magnificent strategies we all use to make peace with the demons inside of us, and with the world outside.